Tuesday, November 29, 2005


On the game

London’s rich, saturated with events, fascinating people, ringing phones, history and more tosh like that. There’s not enough life in a person to do it all, which is why it’s worth doing none of it.

Edit: And that's what happens when you use blogger to make diary notes, boys and girls. Sorry!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Face Off

Scientists show we’ve been losing face for 10,000 years - Newspaper Edition - Times Online: "The human face is shrinking. Research into people’s appearance over the past 10,000 years has found that our ancestors’ heads and faces were up to 30% larger than now.

“Many men then would have had the shape of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s head while women might have looked more like Camilla [the Duchess of Cornwall]. By contrast, Tony Blair and George Bush are good examples of the more delicate modern form.”"

Us throwbacks have a genetic base then, with our lantern jaws, ill-fitting teeth and heavy brow-ridges. At least it's reassuring to know (as the article says) indicates that they can't attribute a reason to why the cranial vault has grown and the face has shrunk; that to me is a signifcant failure of imagination. The decreased solidity of the human face could be explained by a reduction in the need for defense, by the increased importance of voice in communication, by a slow degeneracy into pygmies, by a slow rise into sylphlike aliens, or any other arbitrary position you care to take. Having said that, perhaps they've considered this and made a deliberate effort not to judge what the cause is, as there's so much evidence for every theory...

Edit: Or perhaps rather than rising into aliens, we've come from them. The Website at The End of the Universe points to the theory that we portray aliens as short on physical features because of the way newborns perceive their parents, as a prototypical human face. Why are all our physical features being eroded into this odd abhuman conformity? I'm sure one-time football commentator David Icke has an opinion on this...

In other news... I unexpectedly got given the day off today, so I lazed in bed until 1 p.m. reading Grendel by John Gardner. A nice short book, about Beowulf's foe, the monster Grendel. With a nihilistic dragon, an animalistic mother and the structuralist humans endlessly encroaching and growing, Grendel is brought across as a casually violent existentialist, wanting to believe man's myth-making but crippled by their initially hostile reaction to him and his fundamental loneliness. I've a feeling it'll bear endless re-reading (especially if you're an ex-english student made to study Beowulf in the original Anglo-Saxon, I suspect.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Blowing Dust?

Local London Forecast - Blowing Dust.

Blowing Dust? What the hell does that mean? Shouldn't it say Cloudy or Overcast? Anthropomorphised particulates sounds creepily post-apocalyptic; I wonder if I'm going to get warnings about;

'Decreasing fallout levels; cephalomutant activity is likely to increase in your area. Do *not* open your bunker door, not even if they make noises like your long-dead puppy. Check your seals."

AGH! That's just reminded me I've not fed my Nintendogs for a week! (Hoperfully, they'll have run away by now so I can stop worrying.)

HearFromYourMP.com - Sign up to hear from your MP about local issues, and to discuss them with other constituents

HearFromYourMP.com - Sign up to hear from your MP about local issues, and to discuss them with other constituents: "“So, the voting is over. The politicians vanish to Westminster, and everything carries on as before, right?”

Wrong. Between elections the internet is really starting to challenge politics as usual. As part of this change, we'd like to put you in touch with your new MP. Not for a specific purpose, but in order to hear what they're working on, to debate their thoughts in a safe, friendly environment, and generally to build better, more useful relationships between constituents and their MPs.

If you enter your details, we'll add you to a queue of other people in your constituency. When enough have signed up, your MP will get sent an email. It'll say “20 of your constituents would like to hear what you're up to – hit reply to let them know”. If they don't reply, nothing will happen, until they get an email which says there are now 100 people; 200 people; 500 people – until it is nonsensical not to reply and start talking.

When your MP replies, it won't be one-way spam, and it won't be an inbox-filling free-for-all. Instead, each email will have a link at the bottom, which will take you straight to a forum where the first post will contain the MP's email. There'll be no tiresome login – you can just start talking about what they've said. Safe, easy and democratic."

A good idea - sign up please!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jeff Minter Speaks!

Xbox 360 Movie Player

I interviewed the llama-crazed visualisation genius Jeff Minter a few months ago; the first half of the interview was on our first cover-disc, the second half is available here on our website. Tis a pity they cut out him shouting 'Vindaloo' at the camera and a lot of what he says is bleeped out, especially towards the end. I apologise for the welsh speakers in the background as well.

Friday, November 18, 2005


(Frequently Used Profanities.)

Mine are "Piss N' Blood", "Arsebandit", "Fucktarts" and "Kant". What are yours?

(This is actually a dead clever way of increasing my hits by using obscene language; I get enough of the "sexy gril" hits anyway...)

NPR : 'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey

'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey

Another fantastic link from Jonty, about the psychiatrist Walter Freeman and his rapid ice-pick lobotomies. Curiously, I think my grand-uncle was given a lobotomy many years ago, but it's one of those topics that my family refuses to talk about. (And considering most lobotomies require familial consent, who can blame them?)

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I know I never link to game industry stuff, as it's mostly indulgent tosh (I should ahve prefaced this with Dear Dairy myself, perhaps) but Ralph Koster's Piece on game design here is just very well done. He probably says about one original thing in there, but it's a doozy.

All About Me

I feel like I've not slept in days. I'm subsisting on booze and junk food. My flesh swells, cotton candy floss brushes against the back of my eyeballs, I just want to have some time off, and spend it wisely (if I can remember a way of doing that.)

We got the second issue out, it came back and it's good, pretty, high-quality, eminently superior to the first. Now we're on-line for two more in four weeks. Hence the blimping horror of work, as we rapidly near the end of the first. We reviewed the Xbox launch line-up in a week, some for this issue, some for next, some for the last, now there's very little left to look at but we've got to grind and grind to do the rest of the magazine. It's frustrating and difficult and the rumours of the xbox 360 missing its launch window, having less than 100,000 units in the UK and so on, hardly help.

So I go out at nights and I get drunk with people from the industry, as it's like being asleep but fluffier, then I get home, flash myself into bed, and am back, groggy, in the office seconds later. And it happens every day, and it'll likely happen every weekend. I had an anxiety dream last night about fleeing to Bath on the bus, and losing my stuff as I travelled due to overtiredness, my boots on one bus, my coat on another, my bags the next, chasing after the diverging buses and worrying about my boss chasing me to get into the office, as it's nearing 1.00p.m. and I've missed nearly a whole half day...

A *whole* half day. The thought of spending that out of the office makes me stressed?

Why *do* people want to do this job?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


From Jonty. An office worker struggles to cope with working; the final episode to the tune of Radiohead's Creep is particularly special.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Griliopoulos's User Page - Last.fm

Griliopoulos's User Page - Last.fm

I've just installed this on my computer; a piece of music preference tracking software that uploads its results to the interweb. It's been around for ages, but the combination of a small, easy-to-use radio player and a tracking plug-in for almost any media player means I can finally work out where my musical tastes tend (I've always listened to anthing M.O.R., or at least anything with a depressive/manic edge.)

I seriously dream of the day where every computer I sit down at will track my preferences, allowing me to access all my information without having to do anything; I may have to set up a USB key with a proprietary version of mobile Firefox to do this.


Reading Gore Vidal's great historical potboiler Julian (I suspect this is a repeat reading, though I may be confusing it with Count Belisarius by Robert Graves) I'm puzzled about Eunuchs. Yes, castration can retain a good voice and guarantees that the recipient won't fuck around / think about his genetic legacy as he has none. However, this doesn't explain why they predominated in bureaucracy, particularly senior bureaucracy, when they, over millenia (Assyria, Media, Persia, Greece), proved themselves as corrupt/acquisitive as their sexed counterparts; indeed, often they retained their sex drive. Either they were self-perpetuating or castration provides other significant advantages methinks.

Today in the oh-so-fantastic Berliner/Guardian I find that there are significant mental changes when one hits puberty. This is to be expected. Yet they are significant /crippling/ mental changes. "It is possible that brain reorganisation that occurs at the onset of puberty also accounts for this educational dip, as well as the social challenges of adjusting to a larger school and a new learning environment" according to Dr Sarah-Jane (Yes, not Colin animal-rights fascists) Blakemore. I wonder if the castrate is able to avoid this dip? I wonder what other advantages the lack of hormones conveys? I wonder why the hell I'm thinking about this at 1.00a.m. on a friday night...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wired 13.11: The Mystery of the Green Menace

Wired 13.11: The Mystery of the Green Menace: "One of the ingredients is thujone, a compound in wormwood that is toxic if it's ingested, capable of causing violent seizures and kidney failure. Breaux hands me a bottle of pure liquid thujone. 'Take a whiff,' he says with an evil grin. I recoil at the odor - it's like menthol laced with napalm. This is the noxious chemical compound responsible for absinthe's bad reputation. The question that's been debated for years is, Just how much thujone is there in absinthe?"

Apparently, many absinthe's have just 5 parts per million - that's close to homeopathic levels. I really do worry about my kidneys after that new cocktail we made at the weekend. I think it was absinthe, chocolate liquer, cointreau, chilli vodka and ice, accompanied by Terence's Special Cigarettes.

No wonder I feel like shite today.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Books / Liberal Indoctrination.

This has been sat on my desktop for some time now, so I'd better get it out. Books are my life. I feel depressed and hungry when I can't read, I lose my sense of self when I'm not defining it in relation to a piece of literature. My primary horror in life is book burning and the destruction or repression of viewpoints and knowledge; I believe my first post on this blog, three years ago, referenced Rousseau's comment on the sacking of the Great Library at Alexandria about the acceptability of the destruction of 'wrong' opinion. I couldn't agree with him less. To steal a quote from John Stuart Mill from the American Library Association. "“But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” — On Liberty. Which is why the ALA's list of banned books (they have the fantastic "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak, which was banned for nudity and offensive language, the exceptional "Flowers for Algernon" and "Of Mice and "Men (an UK high school text) up there!) and their recommendations on action is such fascinating reading and why several of those are now on my Amazon Wish List. (In case anyone fancies helping the cause ;) )

Anyway, for those of us who share the internal diktat to spread opinion/knowledge and also deem ommissions to carry as much ethical weight as acts, the failure to promulgate a variety of knowledge is immoral. Which is why the limited selection of texts on the THE FIFTY TWENTIETH-CENTURY WORKS MOST CITED IN THE ARTS & HUMANITIES CITATION INDEX, 1976-1983 is particularly interesting. Oddly, James Joyce is the only author to be regularly cited (perhaps because of the technical, experimental nature of his writing; I don't find it enjoyable, but I do find it thought-provoking from a linguistic standpoint; he created many of the literary techniques that we take for granted nowadays, even if he didn't really know how to use them.) Mostly everything else is doubtless-worthy but dry-as-bones useless stuff that will generate more of the same without challenging. At least Wikibooks provides genuinely useful knowledge through communally created textbooks; I'm tempted towards the opinion that the UK's national curriculum should shift to using this (more for the lack of copyright and the fact that it's free, than the libertarian implications of having an open-source knowledge source.)

Anyway, several of my friends appear to be taking advantage of the Nanowrimo "Write a book in a month" challenge. Very noble; I would have joined in, had I remembered. Perhaps I still can, but for those who have I urge you; write something controversial, express an unknown viewpoint, find the places that sting those who would limit us and prick the pricks. If you're not going to do that, sign up to Librivox. Not everyone can read english or has the time; making audio books available to those, to the blind and the elderly is a good cause.

Fantasy Basketball Advice - Fantasy Basketball Cafe 2005

Fantasy Basketball Advice - Fantasy Basketball Cafe 2005: "There are two ways to define the phrase “Drafting with your eyes closed”. Number 1: Flushed with confidence, you breeze through every round, knowing that whoever you pick will turn out just magical, like a new-millennium, high-definition version of the original Dream Team, but with sexier shorts. And number 2: Slightly out of sorts following a party the night before that lasted until 5 am, you fall asleep at your laptop and miss the first three rounds of the most important draft of your career."

Aw... I really should have woken him up, but he looked so peaceful. And he wasn't talking about fecking VU for five minutes, so it was a nice break... :) (Sorry, Rob!)

Missus Miggin'se Olde Piee Shoppe

So it’s Sunday morning, and this is the fourth weekend I’ve slept Saturday night in my clothes. I’m sitting in the Olde Pie Shoppe in Maritime Greenwich, eating a hearty 10 a.m. breakfast of ‘meat’ pie, mushy peas, limpid mash and gravy. It’s the cheapest meal I’ve found in London at £2, so I’m enjoying the fact that I can waste the rest of the tenner on crap at the local flea Market. I’m the first customer of the day, understandably, and the staff are warming up to their usual banter.

“I can’t believe it’s Sunday again” whinges the shrivelled up old cocknette behind the counter. “It comes around so quick.” She’s said this every time I’ve been here. Like clockwork, the younger owner says, “It does. Wonder what the new boy’s going to be like?” Every Sunday I’ve been to this place, they have a new staff member in to learn the ropes, who disappears by the next weekend; obviously the mass of tourists descending on the pie shoppe (they’d put an extra ‘e’ on pie if they could away with it) traumatises the new workers every time.

Then the owner proceeds to explain his philosophy on life. “He/she should be here by now. There’s two types of people in this life; shirkers and workers.” At this point you expect a puritanical work ethic to spout, about grinding fingers to the bone or suchlike. But no… “Workers die at sixty, shirkers die at ninety. This place has been in my family since 1951.” Ah, so he’d rather not be working. Fair enough, man after my own heart.

By now I’ve scraped together my two scoops of liquid mash for long enough to get it in my mouth, nailed the pie in four forkfuls, and wolfed the mushy peas. Ready to slog home, shower and sleep. Now that’s getting ready for the working week.